Nearly Domesticated Beasts

First I was born blue

to a woman wailing

on all fours like a wolf

drug in and drugged up

on a sterile cot

just before the doctor

shoved me back inside

to unwrap the birth cord

from my neck so I

came out again pink

screaming to thaw

my little throat out

and sputter

Hello to the pack

of mothers that raised me

while they sniff

my cheeks

snouts pushing

hair out of my eyes

There you are they greet

then continue howling

over coffee steam

nearly domesticated

beasts one might think

of their lady-paws

clutching cream pitchers

easy to forget

tucked beneath

their coral lips

are teeth.


Shelby Handler is a writer and educator living on Duwamish territory/Seattle, WA. They are a 2020 Richard Hugo House fellow and incoming MFA candidate at the University of Washington. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, PANK, Sugar House Review, The Journal, Gigantic Sequins, among others. Follow them @shelbeleh.